Metaplex is here

December 20, 2021
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The holiday season is here. What would be better than gifting an NFT?

That was my initial thought. The basic idea is simple but it’s all in the implementation. What if you don’t want to use eth since the gas prices are way too high? What if you want to give them and not sell them? What if you want to mint them yourself instead of buying already minted NFTs?

Putting all these together led me to look into the direction of Solana. Its “gas” prices are reasonable. It’s the fastest-growing network, and they already released their “Wordpress” for NFTs: Metaplex. (Solsea is a good place to start with if you want to use a platform for minting, buying and selling your NFTs.)

The blog post from the summer sounds promising and it looks simple enough to implement.

It took me a while to wrap my head around the whole concept since it’s not exactly as simple as using WordPress nor as painless to install. Finally, with help of multiple online posts and docs, and helping friends I succeeded. The code is still in rapid development so things are changing and many things are not even mentioned. Trial and error is the way to go and read the code for explanations.

Overall, I was impressed by how much you can accomplish now. If you use the command line interface it’s up to your imagination and skills to pull things off. If you want to use the graphical interface tools you can still do a lot. Even airdropping NFTs with various claiming possibilities is already available.

My weekend testing resulted in a live online default installation. You can get your gift NFT from there by participating in the open auction with unlimited winners. Every bidder wins and the minimum amount to participate is (0.0001 sol) instead of plain zero due to platform limitations (it does not accept zero). You need to pay the network costs but altogether a dollar or two worth of sol gets you a brand new NFT at the end of the auction (I hope – it’s still running). Feel free to test yourself at your own risk (see the video for how easy it is).

The experiment was partly successful. I did not manage to mint an NFT that could be given out immediately and with zero price (excluding network fees) that is from an unlimited or large enough supply without putting them on sale separately. Most likely this is just the limitation of the Metaplex platform at the moment and can be easily accomplished with the command tool.

If you really want to send NFTS to your friends or employees and you’re willing to send them manually from your wallet that’s possible. You just mint the desired amount and send them separately. No command-line tool is needed.

It seems the UX allows you to do things that are not actually possible with the actual contracts resulting in errors in code execution and you burning sol for experimentation (you could use the test network for not burning actual sol but it’s cheap enough to do it live, too). I encountered multiple errors and failed attempts but all together they may have been mostly due to my ignorance of the coding logic than actual bugs or errors.

For a smooth user experience, you would need some coding, tweaking and customisation. Caching the network requests, creating a claiming UX, a limited edition with a single mint, and overall nicer front end UX that serves your purpose takes a bit of time and skills but nothing a few good days of coding cannot accomplish.

If you want to learn about smart contracts and the web3 this is a really good way to learn. You can even nudge your friends to open a waller, swap some fiat and get their first web3 experience.

Ohh – and I still have the very first 1/1 mint I did. I might sell it later…

See the previous related posts Web3 is here and The art of NFTs.